by Steve Bousquet
TALLAHASSEE — The 2015 session of the Florida Legislature begins Tuesday here with new leaders facing fresh challenges and competing demands for a projected $1 billion budget surplus.
Gov. Rick Scott ceremonially starts the session Tuesday when he delivers the annual State of the State speech to lawmakers. The 60-day session is scheduled to end May 1.
Republicans outnumber Democrats 26-14 in the Senate and 80-39 in the House, with one House seat in Tampa vacant.
Tampa Bay is in an enviable position because the chairmen of the Senate and House appropriations committees — a role with unmatched power to direct state dollars to local projects — are from the region.
Here are five legislators and five issues to watch as the session begins.